The hotbulb, or hot bulb engine or vaporizing oil engine is a type of internal combustion engine. It is a surface ignition engine in which the superheated fuel is ignited by being brought into contact with oxygen-rich fresh air, rather than by a separate source of ignition, such as a spark plug.
It was perfected by Herbert Akroyd Stuart at the end of the 19th century. The first prototypes were built in 1886 and production started in 1891 by Richard Hornsby & Sons of Grantham, Lincolnshire, England under the title Hornsby Akroyd Patent Oil Engine under licence. It was later developed in the USA by the German emigrants Mietz and Weiss by combining it with the two-stroke engine developed by Joseph Day. Similar engines, for agricultural and marine use, were built by Bolinder and Pythagoras engine factory in Sweden. Bolinder is now part of the Volvo group.
Akroyd-Stuart's vaporizing oil engine (compared to spark-ignition) is distinctly different from Rudolf Diesel's better-known engine where ignition is initiated through the heat of compression. An oil engine will have a compression ratio of about 3:1, where a typical Diesel engine will have a compression ratio ranging between 15:1 to 20:1.
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